XIX. (94) And it is well added in the scripture, “And it was counted to him for righteousness:” for nothing is so righteous as to have an unalloyed and entire belief in the only God. (95) But this, although both just and consistent with reason, was considered an incredible thing on account of the incredulity of the generality of men, whom the holy scripture condemns, saying, that “to anchor firmly and unchangeably on the only living God, is a thing to be admired among men, who have no possession of true unmingled good, but is not to be wondered at if truth guide the judgment; but it is the especial attribute of justice.

XX. (96) The scripture proceeds: “And he said unto him I am God, who brought thee out of the land of the Chaldaeans, so as to give thee this land to inherit it.” These words exhibit not only a promise, but a confirmation of an ancient promise; (97) for the good which was previously bestowed upon him was the departure from the Chaldaean philosophy, which was occupied about the things of the air, which taught me to suppose that the world was not the work of God, but was God himself; and that good and evil is caused in the case of all existing things, by the motions and fixed periodical revolutions of the stars, and that on these motions the origin of all good and evil depends; and the equable (homaleµ) and regular motion of these bodies in heaven, persuaded those simple men to look upon these things as omens, for the name of the Chaldaeans being interpreted is synonymous with equability (homaloteµs). (98) But the new blessing which is promised is the acquisition of that wisdom which is not taught by the outward senses, but is comprehended by the pure mind, and by which the best of all emigrations is confirmed; when the soul departs from astronomy and learns to apply itself to natural philosophy, and to exchange unsure conjecture for certain apprehension, and, to speak with real truth, to quit the creature for the Creator, an the world for its father and maker; (99) for the scriptures tell us, that the votaries of the Chaldaean philosophy believed in the heaven, but that he who abandoned that sect believed in the ruler of the heaven and the manager of the whole world, namely, in God. A very beautiful inheritance, greater perhaps than the power of him who receives it, but worthy of the greatness of the giver.

XXI. (100) But it is not sufficient for the lover of wisdom to have a hope of good things, and to expect all kinds of admirable things, because of the predictions given to him, but unless he also knows the manner in which he is to arrive at the succession of his inheritance, he thinks it very grievous, inasmuch as he thirsts after knowledge, and has an insatiable desire of attaining to it; on which account he puts a question, saying, “O Lord God, how shall I know that I shall inherit it?” (101) Perhaps some one may say that this question is at variance with perfect faith, for that to feel such a difficulty is the part of one who doubts, but that it is the part of one who believes to seek for nothing further. We must say, therefore, that he both doubts and has believed, but not about the same matter, far from it, for he has believed that he is to be an inheritor of wisdom, but he only seeks to know the manner in which this event will take place; that it really will take place he does by all means confidently comprehend, in accordance with the divine promises. (102) Therefore the teacher having praised the desire for learning which he feels, begins his explanation with the first elementary instruction, in which this is set down as the first and most necessary thing, “Take for Me.”{38}{#ge 15:9.} The sentence is brief, but the meaning is great; for there are not a few things implied in these words. (103) In the first place you have, says God, no good thing of your own, but whatever you fancy that you have, another has bestowed it upon you. From which it is inferred that all things are the property of God who gives them, but that they do not belong to the creature which only existed after him, and which stretches forth its hands to take them. (104) In the second place, he says, even if you take them, take them not for yourself, but think what is thus given you a loan or deposit, and be ready to restore it to him who has deposited it with, or contributed it to you, requiting an older favour with a newer one, and an original kindness with one proffered instead of it, as justice and propriety require.